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Author Topic: Taxing Religious Institutions  (Read 1509 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Taxing Religious Institutions
« on: May 22, 2009, 11:29:14 AM »
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I would make my case FOR taxing religious institutions if they have no grounds under other laws to be considered a non-profit serving the community or some specific goal. For example a homeless shelter would be exempt under other grounds religious exemptions are not required. So would a school or an artistic program teaching youths art and the like.

In this I assume a church is there fundamentally to serve its own members, and of a worshipping character to a higher power or faith path.

Now I will make my case. On the grounds of the establishment clause giving any religious worship center ,use a church for that in this debate, free money by not taxing them actually promotes the practice of a religion. This is not complicated say a church is small and gets a tax break of $1000 a year that is money they can use to buy and hand out religious tracts, put out advertisements, set-up a web site and post that online to promote the faith. In other words the government might has well be handing them the $1000 and tell them to do what they want with it, its the same thing. So in fact by not taxing he church they are establishing a church is a way the courts already stated was illegal.

On the matter of prohibiting the practice of religion oddly that and freedom of speech are protected by taxing churches. With tax-emptions comes the insideous power of the government to tell a chruch what speech they can enjoy, and with it perhaps limits on their rights. If a church say is opposed to abortion on religious grounds and a pro-life candidate is running they can't openly oppose them even if that is what they fervantly believe if they take the exemption. On the other hand a church like mine does pay taxes we can then act as a moral voice for or against anyone in office or any government action since there is no tax risk. The fact the government does favor religious non-profits with no taxes also violates their rights to the practice and free speech fo those of faith. Again insulting the First Amendments simple language.

Now I know that people will say religion has no place in politics its a common refrain what are we afraid of. We are a democracy what makes the minister or the non-minister perhaps of a higher social station so they may be listened to not equal save one is speaking of a diety and the other from a secular position.

As for the charitable things a church may do for its members counciling and maybe in house benefits what does that have to do with helping the community, in that a homeless shelter helps those outside the church and a worship service every week doesn't. If a church has such institutions in the community the simple solution would be to make those tax exempt on their grounds and have a second religious organizaton covering those. Apart from the main religious church. That would avoid any risk of violations on First Amendment grounds for churches and their charitable activity in the community even if more paperwork may be required. The government could and should make that process fair and easy but that is not a matter for the fundamental illegal act of the government supporting a faith with funds they will use if they are tax-exempt.

I will stop here for now to allow others to reply.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2009, 11:30:22 AM by RubySlippers »

Offline Zakharra

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2009, 12:40:23 PM »
 
Quote
Now I will make my case. On the grounds of the establishment clause giving any religious worship center ,use a church for that in this debate, free money by not taxing them actually promotes the practice of a religion. This is not complicated say a church is small and gets a tax break of $1000 a year that is money they can use to buy and hand out religious tracts, put out advertisements, set-up a web site and post that online to promote the faith. In other words the government might has well be handing them the $1000 and tell them to do what they want with it, its the same thing. So in fact by not taxing he church they are establishing a church is a way the courts already stated was illegal.

 The US Supreme Court disagrees with that, as do many other District courts. As far as they are concerned, it is completely legal to give churches a tax exempt status.

 Church run businesses though.. those should be taxed as a corporation.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2009, 02:41:13 PM »
I'm just arguing they are illegally violating the First Amendment in doing so and in fact the government should just treat all property owned as equal and neutral for taxation. The fact churches went along with this by taking this is just as bad in that they are in fact surrendering their rights to fully practice their faith and their moral duty to stand up for what they believe.

The governments right to dictate their speech rights alone should cause concern.

I will note they also used to defend the rights of masters over slaves the appaling Dred Scott decision, so they are not clearly infallible on this either. And what do you think these groups do with their tax-exempt extra money they build larger churches and promote their faith that is clearly against the spirit of seperation of church and state, its as bad as the government endorsing faiths in general. Which they are also forbidden to do with legislation.

And I don't think the megachurches were ever anticipated where they are ,in fact, huge tax-exempt money making machines with cafes and other things as "part of" their ministry.

What about taxing churches is so anathema to their right to practice no one is telling the Christian, Jew or Muslim they cannot worship doing this. I could take a Bible and legally read it, pray and minister no government agency could deny me that. But should a ministry if they take in money be tax-exempt if it in turn violates my rights to free speech and to speak out against moral issues even if against a political figure. I think that is dangerous to people of faith and the government and to democracy when one group can speak and another group not when the government makes those decisions.

I know the Universal Life Church has its critics but most of us are serious ministers, I take this seriously, I feel the government cannot morally and legally hand out tax-exemptions for just worship centers and then use that to attack our rights to act as ministers in ways they find offensive. Like if I didn't like Obama I should have the right to say not vote for him for these reasons in a church as an example from a pulpit if I thought it was the right thing to do.

But the only major case I would agree with it is voluntary so churches can opt not to take it but all that money is a big stick to churches, so could be a case of bribing faiths. You shut up and you get this much more money and we won't say anything if you promote the faith with this money, just stay out of politics. I think most church leaders should be ashamed for handing over their moral and ethical duty to their faith path and do that.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2009, 04:06:17 PM »
 If a church runs a business, the business should be taxed as a normal corporate entity is. As a church though, no. It is the view of the Judicial, Legislative and Exuecutive branches that churches having a tax exempt status is NOT a violation of the US constitution in any form or fashion.

 In this you are going against established jusical law and president.

Offline Lithos

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2009, 04:09:51 PM »
In this you are going against established jusical law and president.

Which anyone has every right to do, right? :)

Moronic practices do not change without people questioning them.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2009, 04:59:25 PM »
I'm not aruing my position is opposite the current case law it is. But Libertarians do tend to take the constitutional powers literally and simply, if the case law is leaning towards seperation of church and state. Then logical extension is that the government should not be for or against any religion and to me that must include taxation.

Let me clarify what happens when a church is tax exempt they lose:
1. Right to practice that is they may be zones as churches and that means they have limits to where they may be, could be refused permits (they don't pay taxes that means less money from property) and the right to promote their moral views in public. That also violates free speech if one thinks about it and the right to peacefully assemble in that their worship centers might be limited in location and size by local governments.
2. They may use the added money from lower taxation to promote their faith more than if they paid taxes, no one can't say that is illogical.
3. The stance of non-taxation therefore promotes religion in general and in another view also sequesters the rights of churches to freely practice both of which is in direct violation with case law.

But I also view this as a position that churches have a moral duty to refuse tax-exempt status unless the property is used for a community service or service that could be exempt on another ground. Say a school of a church being tax-exempt or a charity assistance program like a soup kitchen. Which should be treated apart from the church legally even if that means more paperwork.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2009, 06:29:43 PM »
I'm not aruing my position is opposite the current case law it is. But Libertarians do tend to take the constitutional powers literally and simply, if the case law is leaning towards seperation of church and state. Then logical extension is that the government should not be for or against any religion and to me that must include taxation.

 And I am saying the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of the government see it differently than Libertatians. No state or federal laws have been passed that revoked that. That churches are and should be tax exempt as a protection for the First Amendment. Giving them this status does NOT violate the 1st Amendment. It hasn't for over 200 years.

 Now, church run businesses that make and sell a product (religion is not included in this) should not have the same tax exemtp status.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2009, 07:54:28 PM »
Which anyone has every right to do, right? :)

Moronic practices do not change without people questioning them.

 Some would say the same about the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Especially the Second.

Offline Serephino

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2009, 11:18:17 PM »
First of all, the 1st Amendment is in no way being violated by any tax exemption that I can tell.  Have you not seen churches protest against movies, laws about gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research?  For the past several years the Christians are always protesting something....  And then during the Presidential election there were stories of preachers openly supporting a candidate.

Personally, I really don't want religious leaders involved in politics.  I don't want another religion's views forced on me via laws.  When President Bush was saying gay marriage was against God a reporter asked who's God?  Do you really want someone to tell you it's illegal to do something because it's a sin?  They already do that and it pisses me off.

When a church takes donations from its members it uses that money to function.  They pay the minister, pay the church utilities, and yes, sometimes they pay for missionaries to go abroad and preach, and do other things to promote their faith.  Should they not be allowed?  I'm not a big fan of the Christian church, but if going to the church every Sunday and listening to that drivel makes you happy then by all means knock yourself out.  Just don't try to make me join you.  I don't wanna.   

About four years ago my grandmother's church built themselves a huge three story social hall.  I have no idea why they felt they needed it, but what the fuck ever....  It's their money that their members donated.  I might think it's a waste of money, but I guess the church members don't.  I quite happily practice my religion in my living room with candles and incense. 

And of course if you tax religious institutions, you'd have to tax them ALL.  What about Covens who's members donate money for ritual supplies?  Are you going to tax that?  Most covens meet in someone's home from what I understand.  But those ritual supplies would only benefit coven members, and guests if guests are allowed.  Of course if you didn't tax them you'd have some big Christian churches whining about discrimination. 

Your arguments have a narrow spectrum, but what you're proposing would effect a large number of people.  Christians are the only ones who promote their religion I think.  I'm not sure about Jews and Muslims, though Buddhists, Spiritualists, Hindus, and Pagans do not.  If anyone wants to seriously approach me and ask me questions I will happily answer questions and direct them to good information sources.  Other than that I'll live my life and let you believe what makes you happy.

You mentioned something about your church being taxed and the government not recognizing you or something.  I think that is your problem, but I don't know what to tell you.  I do know that getting government further involved in religion and vice-versa is not the answer.  Current relations are already sticky enough for my tastes.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2009, 12:49:59 AM »
From my understanding of the ULC, which I will admit is limited, the problems with tax exemption they face is due to their open policy of admission.  The IRS is fearful that people will become ministers if only to receive an exemption on their personal taxes.  So far as I understand the ULC is eligible for tax exemption at their various sites and by their congregations.  Whether these groups apply for that exemption is another thing, yet the ULC has fought quite vehemently for the ability to claim tax exemption.  They have also had the tax exemption and made use of it in the past.

Also, most religious organizations fall under nonprofit organizations.  Tax exemption would just be given to them under a different name.  Many churches do run soup kitchens out of their churches, many provide day care centers out of their schools and many offer their grounds for sites of AA meetings and such.  A church, no matter its denomination, can become the center for many communities and host a variety of activities.  There would be little problem for a church to qualify for this exemption.  Mainly the smaller religions that cannot afford large structures would be hurt by this removal. 

The main thrust of your argument seems to be removal of tax exemption so to circumvent separation of Church and State.  In essence it sounds like there is a desire for ministers to preach politics from the pulpit.  Keep in mind though that ministers are not the only ones restricted in their ability to voice their opinions about politics.  A person can be sued for pressing their political viewpoint, religious viewpoint or agenda that does not relate to the workplace on anyone “beneath” them.  Judges, police officers, teachers and such authority figures are not to preach from their positions of authority.  The government does not have the ability to restrict your speech, but that does not mean your title and rank can be used to further your own political ideas.

Also, keep in mind that if the restraint of religion entering politics is removed then money can be publically used to fund candidates.  Currently a religion might have a member of its congregation endorse a candidate, but this is a private donation.  Churches have to make their financial records public, due to their tax exempt status, so cannot fund a candidate themselves.  Also they cannot come out with a public endorsement for advertising or anything else on a particular candidate.  A religion can state its viewpoint on ethical issues, but cannot go for or against any particular candidate.

Practicing one’s religion does not extend to politics so far as the law is concerned.  A priest, minister, preacher, rabbit or what have you is allowed their political opinions.  They may vote how they wish, may advocate whichever candidate they desire and may even appear at rallies for issues.  They may not use their pulpit though to condemn a candidate or their position as clergy to advocate for a political party.

Offline Serephino

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2009, 08:57:42 AM »
*nods*  I went to the ULC website and didn't find out much about them, but found out I could become ordained for free and with no questions asked about my religious views.  So I could ask to be ordained and declare myself a Priest of Set for no other reason than I could.  In every other religion one must study for years to become clergy. 

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2009, 10:59:50 AM »
I will counter with a classic ULC viewpoint - who ordained Moses to act as a minister it was not a church or Abraham or John the Baptist or Jesus or Buddha or any number of people of faith who frankly had just an endorsement often from God or some other power? As someone who is agnostic to atheist in leaning the ULC doesn't demand we as clergy believe in any higher power I've been pushing for a formal title Atheist Minister to the list to go along side the othersbut find the simple title Cleric suitable for now. We are just admonished to do that which is right and how we express that is between us and our moral center.

A Priest of Set well there is our one doctrine as long as you do what is right and don't hurt anyone you would be welcome to join. But to declare yourself a priest recognized you have to donate $10 for the special title and have it registered with the church. We do have one satanist so why not?

I don't agree with the main church on tax-exemptions I feel its not necessary to have that and be a church. Not an odd position the Simple Church movement is in the same camp even if Christian. But that doesn't mean that I'm not suitable for ULC ministry. In fact the local church is paying taxes because we feel it frees us for example our current worship center is in a business zoned district we could not be in as a non-profit. Since we pay property taxes and act as a business we have freedom to do that.

And my arguement is not that complicated you give a church tax-exemption you give them more money which will likely aid in promoting the religion I don't care if all it does is sit there and gets fixed up with that money, with a sign. Its still the government endorsing the growth of religion. And the fact the government using its power to quell even on minister who wants to endorse a candidate is a breech of its power there is not seperation of church or state in the US Consitution. As a libertarian I take that literally it has the government can't establish religion so can't have a state church, they can't suppress in most cases the free expression of religion with a high level of compelling interest and they are not stated as having this seperation. The fact Thomas Jefferson mentioned it in a letter doesn't make in black and white ENGLISH in the constitution its not some odd language.

I see the opposite the government constrained from any action to create a church run by the state and they can't again dictate to the moral conscience of the faithful in dictating worship or what is allowed. Unless say major problems are happening like child sex abuse or human sacrifice if a church wanted to have polygamy such as the Mormons their rights should have held sway as long as all parties are of consentual age.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2009, 12:44:02 PM »
 
Quote
And my arguement is not that complicated you give a church tax-exemption you give them more money which will likely aid in promoting the religion I don't care if all it does is sit there and gets fixed up with that money, with a sign. Its still the government endorsing the growth of religion. And the fact the government using its power to quell even on minister who wants to endorse a candidate is a breech of its power there is not seperation of church or state in the US Consitution. As a libertarian I take that literally it has the government can't establish religion so can't have a state church, they can't suppress in most cases the free expression of religion with a high level of compelling interest and they are not stated as having this seperation. The fact Thomas Jefferson mentioned it in a letter doesn't make in black and white ENGLISH in the constitution its not some odd language.


  The government is not giving monet to churches by giving them a tax exempt status. It's not taking AWAY money from the churches. It's letting the church do with the money as they see fit (kind of like a tax cut).

 The view you are espousing is not held by ANY branch of the current or past US government. It's not supported by the US Constitution or by 200+ years of legislative and juducial history.

 

Offline Serephino

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2009, 03:12:12 PM »
Sweets, you really don't seem to be listening to us.  I don't know where you got this information, but the person was clearly dropped on their head as a child. 

Any money given to a church is donated by its members.  All the Government is doing is not taking it.  They are NOT endorsing religion.  They are simply sitting back and leaving the churches to do as they see fit.  Isn't that what your very own church preaches?  The church is doing what they see is right when they promote themselves.  How is that harming you?  If one of them comes to my door I put on a pentacle necklace and invite them to help me sacrifice a goat.  They run away pretty fast and don't bother me anymore.  I don't sacrifice animals by the way, it's just funny as hell to see the looks of horror on their faces.

And so a church can't promote a candidate.  Candidates can't promote a religion and I like it that way.  I don't want people to vote for someone because their minister said to.  I want people to use their own heads.  Is that too much to ask? 

We keep giving you good arguments and stating facts and you keep saying the same thing over and over. 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2009, 03:29:44 PM »
If you were to believe that tax exemption status means endorsement, then you would make the claim that the United States government endorses a lot of corporations.  They also endorse various religious practices from paganism to Christianity.  There is a big difference between the government handing money directly to an institution and simply not collecting taxes.  I would point toward the controversy of school vouchers as an example of this difference. 

Offline Bayushi

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2009, 04:34:14 PM »
The crux of the problem isn't churches being tax-exempt.

The problem is simple: TAXES.

As in, the Federal Taxes. By the 10th Amendment, the Federal Government is usurping power from the States, power given to them by the 10th Amendment.

There was no inclusion of Federal Taxation until the 16th Amendment was ratified.

But on topic here...

As an Agnostic, I am not a fan of religion.

But even I realize that most of the people in this country need their religion, else they will be seemingly lost and without adequate moral compass(though not all religions seem to be all that moral at times). I honestly believe that without the world's many religious backgrounds, most of our more just laws would not have been created.

I believe that all taxes, ESPECIALLY the income taxes, should be repealed and instead institute the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax would inevitably tax EVERYONE, even those who are current tax exempt. For everyone and every organization, regardless of ethos or cause, consumes.

Sure, it'd suck for some people, like myself. I'm permanently disabled, and am not taxed because I receive a fixed income from the Government.

But in the overall scheme of things, the Fair Tax would be the appropriate thing to do for the country as a whole. Problem is, a lot of people who cannot think past their own petty selves and the here & now oppose the Fair Tax.

Offline Serephino

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2009, 06:58:31 PM »
I don't pay taxes either except state sales tax, and whatever taxes are on liquor.  I can't say thinking about myself and my current situation is all that selfish.  I read the thing, and I'm thinking about it, but I don't know. 

The Social Security tax is what ensures that there's money for that.  The problem comes when the government 'borrows' money from it and doesn't give it back because it doesn't have to. 

I don't think there's anything fair about me, a disabled person, paying the same amount of taxes as a company CEO that's raking it in.  I say if you want to live in a capitalist system and become a billionaire... cough it up buddy.... 

I actually like what's already being done.  My boyfriend does work and does pay income taxes, but he's paying less.  Now since he's paying less and bringing home more we've been doing things like going out to dinner more, and I bought some clothes earlier. 

I suppose it would depend on how much you were going to tax stuff, but like different taxes go for different things.  Property and gambling taxes go to schools.  So if you only had one tax, how would you decide what amount went to what?  So called 'simple' solutions seem to bring up more questions than they answer.  I don't know what's going to fix this mess, but I do know it's not going to be simple or easy.  Nothing that actually works ever is. 

I wish they'd do something about the bloody credit card pirates though.....

 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2009, 07:45:13 PM »
I'm more concerned with how they are calculating the poverty line and what this does with their calculations in general.  The United States formual for poverty is so out of date an inacurate, that it's almost a joke to even consider.

Suppose that is a bit off topic though.

Offline Bayushi

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2009, 08:34:10 PM »
I don't pay taxes either except state sales tax, and whatever taxes are on liquor.  I can't say thinking about myself and my current situation is all that selfish.  I read the thing, and I'm thinking about it, but I don't know.

Well, the disabled and elderly are tax exempt on their social security for good reason. So far below the poverty line that taxing them would be cruel.

The Social Security tax is what ensures that there's money for that.  The problem comes when the government 'borrows' money from it and doesn't give it back because it doesn't have to.

Indeed. It would have been nice if this latest "stimulus" had instead of wasting money on the Saltwater Marsh Mouse in San Francisco, and other such nonsense that had NOT A DAMNED THING to do with stimulating the economy; they put the fcking money back into the Social Security fund. Sure, it'd only give a few additional years of life, all told... but it'd be just that much more time to figure out and implement a new, self-sufficient system.

I don't think there's anything fair about me, a disabled person, paying the same amount of taxes as a company CEO that's raking it in.  I say if you want to live in a capitalist system and become a billionaire... cough it up buddy....

Now now, Angel. I'm disabled myself. I was making $120k a year before the onset of my disability. Now I'm pulling in $8088 a year(adjusted yearly for inflation). Same "amount" of taxes? I think you misunderstood. It would be the same PERCENTAGE taxed. The more you buy, the more you are taxed. Obviously, the CEO is going to buy more than you would... so he ends up paying more taxes. Simple as that.

I actually like what's already being done.  My boyfriend does work and does pay income taxes, but he's paying less.  Now since he's paying less and bringing home more we've been doing things like going out to dinner more, and I bought some clothes earlier.

I do not like what's being done. What's being done? A whole lot of nothing except a hell of a lot of pointless spending. WHY do we need to spend money on saving an obscure mouse in San Francisco, when we have people living on the streets in utter destitution?

WHY do we need to pay for people in OTHER COUNTRIES to have abortions when we have people so poor they have to choose between food and rent?

I could go on with more and more.... but I think you get the idea. The issue is, we have a hell of a lot more governmental spending, but no plan(s) for increasing tax revenue that wouldn't put the average business OUT of business.

I suppose it would depend on how much you were going to tax stuff, but like different taxes go for different things.  Property and gambling taxes go to schools.  So if you only had one tax, how would you decide what amount went to what?  So called 'simple' solutions seem to bring up more questions than they answer.  I don't know what's going to fix this mess, but I do know it's not going to be simple or easy.  Nothing that actually works ever is.

Honestly, it's my opinion that some things like Property Taxes and Estate Taxes that below a certain HIGH amount need to not be taxed. Seriously, why do they tax people on their homes? IT'S THEIR HOUSE, THEIR PROPERTY!

Why do you tax someone their whole lives, and when they die, you tax them again? Whatever happened to double jeopardy? It just doesn't make sense... but then, most of Congress wouldn't understand common sense if it were sodomizing them.

I wish they'd do something about the bloody credit card pirates though.....

Indeed. I had my information stolen from me in 2006, and even after having my debit card revoked and given an all new one, I was still being charged by the same damned sites. None of which I could get to stop charging, as the account owner(porn website account owner) is unable to access the internet from his cell in a federal penitentiary. Where he ended up for stealing the identity of a Marine deployed in Iraq. Needless to say, the Marine Corps threw the book at him... and he's got 10 years left to go in whichever Federal Pen they sent him to.(doesn't help that he's a repeat offender and registered Sex Offender/child rapist) And now that I cannot provide 'proof' that he did all this, the bank will not refund the money.

I'm more concerned with how they are calculating the poverty line and what this does with their calculations in general.  The United States formual for poverty is so out of date an inacurate, that it's almost a joke to even consider.

Even given the old standard(s) for the poverty line, I am below said line. $674 a month doesn't come out to a whole hell of a lot, in the end. $8,088 a year is obviously under the poverty line.

Sad thing is, the average single adult in their 20's is in poverty. Hell, I'd go as far as to say that $25,000 is about where the poverty line is.

Offline Serephino

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2009, 09:58:16 PM »
I agree that some of the spending is pointless.  I don't know much about the mouse thing, but no, that doesn't have anything to do with the economy.  And I agree that we should focus on our own citizens and worry less about third world countries.  That may sound selfish, but I've had to chose between having electricity and a phone.  We're not starving fortunately, but the cat has had to go hungry for a few days and I've had to use tissues as a substitute for toilet paper. 

This mess was caused by outsourcing jobs, and buying cheap materials from China.  Basically, greedy companies who wanted to make themselves richer.  When oil spiked it put the nail in the coffin. 

I don't think property should be taxed either.  I'd like it if they'd remove the taxes on my bills.  Like my phone is supposed to be $9.95, but with taxes it's $14.99.  WTF......  They nickel and dime you to death.

What I'd like to see is the crap spending and the bailouts to stop.... or maybe have citizen's bailout.  I'm a disabled person that's like $8,000 in debt and the interest is killing me.  I did things with my credit like bought oil to heat my home last winner and I had medically necessary surgery.  There were a few trips to the vet for the furbabies too.  Oh, and I had to have a tooth pulled.

Offline ChosenbyRuin

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2009, 07:36:42 PM »
An interesting theory. My counterpoint is this: Taxation is force, force is coercian. I'm not arguing so much as playing the devil's advocate ;)

Offline Vandren

Re: Taxing Religious Institutions
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2009, 07:15:07 PM »
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is actually an incorrect, and rather pointless, direction from which to approach the tax-exempt status of churches.  Because all churches that can prove non-profit status are exempt from taxation, no particular religion is being given precedence over any other.  That said, a church has to prove that it is unified and non-profit (which ULC has issues doing given their means of acquiring status as a minister; heck, my cat could be a ULC ordained minister), which primarily means that the church is not attempting to directly influence politics.  This is one reason that I personally think the Mormons ought to lose their tax exempt status, especially after the amount of money they dumped into CA's Prop 8.

Quote from: asku
The main thrust of your argument seems to be removal of tax exemption so to circumvent separation of Church and State.  In essence it sounds like there is a desire for ministers to preach politics from the pulpit.  Keep in mind though that ministers are not the only ones restricted in their ability to voice their opinions about politics.  A person can be sued for pressing their political viewpoint, religious viewpoint or agenda that does not relate to the workplace on anyone “beneath” them.  Judges, police officers, teachers and such authority figures are not to preach from their positions of authority.  The government does not have the ability to restrict your speech, but that does not mean your title and rank can be used to further your own political ideas.

Speaking as a teacher . . . the big difference is that teachers, judges, police officers, and other authority figures can't obtain tax exempt status.  It would be nice if we were able to do so.  Likewise, a minister can't be fired for preaching politics (unless the congregation does something, even then only in certain faiths) while the teacher, the judge, and the police officer can be and have been.

In fact, this is the thrust of Henry David Thoreau's argument (in 1849) against tax-exempt status for churches.  As he put it in Civil Disobedience, "I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster."

Now, Thoreau has been lifted and, I think, badly misinterpreted by Libertarians, but he did have some good, valid ideas (as Gandhi and MLK Jr recognized).

On another note, to claim that "this is the way things have been for a long time" is, quite frankly, a b.s. response.  For the first century of this nation we had poll taxes (a tax paid before one was allowed to vote), for the first century of this nation we had legal slavery, for the first century and a half of this nation women weren't allowed to vote, and the cry that went up each time people wanted to remove these limitations was "but this is the way we've always done things."  Heck, that excuse is why Columbia University still requires all of its undergrads to pass a swim test before they get their B.A.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 07:19:39 PM by Vandren »